DIGITAL BY DESIGN
Metamark MD5 is more than just a popular product in the range of Metamark MD-Class printable media. It’s something of an industry ‘classic’ too. MD5 is freely chosen by signs and graphics producers around the world. It’s specified by leading brands too. MD5 is used as a reference material by printer manufacturers who have hardware with quality to prove. And it’s usually there to be found in the boots of engineers’ cars who take it on site and use it to validate repairs to hardware in the field. It’s a product that been evolved and improved. ‘Classic’ it may be. It’s state-of-the-art too.
Why MD5 though? It’s by no means the only white, digitally compliant print media out there. Is its use and amazing popularity thanks to force of habit? Or does it offer something that other print media can’t? Probably the latter according to Metamark.
MD5 started life with something of an advantage in life. Born in an era when so-called ‘legacy’ white films were being branded as ‘digital’ if ink happened to stick to them, MD5 was formulated to display a range of characteristics that Metamark defined as desirable in a ‘properly’ digital material. Rather than work, more or less by accident, MD5 was said to be ‘Digital By Design’ and it performed brilliantly unlike rafts of its contemporaries.
Metamark MD5 had, and still has today, a great appetite for ink. That means that when compared with material that were not developed expressly for digital printing, it tended to deliver more of the colour gamut of the print hardware being used because the controlling profile didn’t need such aggressive ink-limiting.
Being more tolerant of ink volume comes with its own set of issues if the media can’t be dried reliably. MD5 could dry well and does today even when printed with deeply saturated detail. Solvent, UV and, latterly, Latex inks all performed faultlessly with Metamark MD5 then, and still do now. As hardware has become faster, Metamark has improved the formulation so the material can keep pace and deliver the hardware’s potential.
Quality of output has been a factor in MD5’s development too. Early digital output was primarily a study in replacing detail elements that would have been cut from coloured self-adhesive materials with printed matter. As printers improved though, near-photographic quality pictorial elements began to appear. MD5 was, and still remains, in a select group of materials capable of resolving the detail well enough to be consider photo-quality.
So, in MD5 today, we have a material that’s Digital by Design, works well across all applications and that liberates the full performance of the hardware being used. It has all the right credentials for life in a modern signs and graphics producer’s print shop. What does that translate into in purely practical terms?
According to many of its most committed advocates, Metamark MD5 is the go-to digital media that they reach for and use for the bulk of incoming work that’s not of a particularly specialised nature. MD5 acquits itself well. When you push the button and the ink starts going down, the result is assured. The flip side of the same coin that makes MD5 such a compliant material in a modern digital printer, also makes it very tolerant when it comes to mistakes. Chances are, you do something wrong with MD5 it will forgive you.
Being a digital material, and one that’s Digital By Design at that, Metamark MD5 has the laminating side of its life covered too. Laminates of course protect what’s a very thin layer of ink with a layer of something much thicker and tougher. In the case of MD5, the laminate is mechanically matched to the substrate.
Mechanical matching of laminates is a great idea. What it delivers to the printer / applicator is a ‘feel’ that ensures the matched laminate doesn’t impair the way the MD5 handles. So the ‘soft handle’ that makes MD5 so easy to work with, isn’t given away for the price of the protection the laminate offers.
Metamark MD5 has some impressive numbers behind it. Since the first square meter of it came off the mill at Metamark’s Lancaster factory, something now headed well north of thirty million meters have followed. That’s a lot of material and a lot of experience too. In producing MD5, Metamark applies a quality-first ethic. A good example would be the adhesive used on the product.
During coating, meticulous process controls ensure an even weight of adhesive on the material. That weight is controllable. If Metamark were to dial the process controls such that the coating weight were reduced by one gramme per square metre and keep it there, about £100K per year could be saved in the bill of materials. So why not do that? Simple. What came off the mill would be a product that’s outside the spec that makes MD5, MD5.
Ian Simister is Metamark’s Sales Director. His team is at the sharp ends of things in the field and talking to customers. Feedback from the field is good. “MD5 is, we’re told, a really wonderful product,” says Ian. “Customers genuinely appreciate the way it works, the reliability it delivers and the results they get using it. Before we change anything to do with MD5, we validate the effects. We can improve and new technologies enable us to advance the formulation from time to time. We don’t do it lightly though. Our ‘Performance and Trust’ brand position is underpinned by MD5 and what it is and does. It’s our promise to our customers. MD5 is something they can count on.”
So there it is. What makes Metamark MD5 print the way it does? In a word, ‘Metamark.’